Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Yuletide potpourri

December 24-30, Zephyrhills, Florida

It’s almost hard to believe Christmas 2012 is behind us already. This year was our second Christmas as full-timers in our motorhome. With this distinction comes other seconds:  being out of our home in Oregon; spending Christmas in a warm climate; and missing my mom’s presence on this planet. We both have mixed feelings about spending this holiday far away from our kids. Next year we might do what many of our RVing friends do-- either have family come stay with us somewhere or lock up the motorhome and take a trip to the West Coast. Good to have options! 

It made the holidays a little easier to be in this part of Florida as I do have family here. The Christmas Eve tradition for my oldest niece is to have a family gathering at her home with a special meal, games, and a present exchange. After eating many delicious appetizers and a big meal with a standing rib roast and all the fixings, we did a white elephant exchange using trivial pursuit questions to determine the prizes. My niece found the best gag gifts at The Cracker Barrel of all places, things like a whoopee cushion, a chocolate tool kit, yo-yos, etc.  Actually, a lot of the gifts were pretty cute. I especially wanted to leave with a smsock monkeyall sock monkey, but alas, it escaped me.  Most people who know me are familiar with my monkey obsession.  I have teased Vic for years telling him I really want to have a monkey as a pet someday. I used to think I did, but now I just use this line for leverage as he will concede to almost anything else when I press the monkey issue.  (Whoops, I guess my trick is out of the bag now. )  Last year at a campground in Ft. Myers, a fellow camper was walking around with a spider monkey on his shoulder.  I made a deal with him to tell Vic that he was a breeder and that I put a deposit on a pet monkey for us. For a moment, Vic thought his worst nightmare was about to come true. After all that I had to settle for a monkey pillow that I try to protect from the abuse of the dogs.

jetta and monkey

I am including a collage of our Christmas Eve to share a sense of our evening with my middle brother’s Florida family. My brother Jerry, no surprise, is the one sporting the mink Russian Cossack hat—never mind that he is all Irish. 

xmas collage 2012

Christmas day was sure quiet—especially with no grandkids to wake us up. It was a sunny morning which we appreciated as the nighttime temps have dipped into the 30s here this past week. We had a leisurely morning and then I made a little brunch for my brother and us. His family always goes to see a movie on Christmas Day, so we decided to join in. The movie they chose to see, Django Unchained, a Quentin Tarantino film, was something I was leery about seeing because of the violence, especially on Christmas Day, but I managed to bury my head in my armpit each time the scenes turned graphic. I do have an appreciation for Tarantino’s off-the-wall techniques and unpredictable plot lines, and this film’s compelling story about bounty hunters in the 1850s did not disappoint. Good thing because it was almost three hours long! We went to a 2 p.m. matinee and it was almost dark when we got out of the theater. 

After the movie, we caught up with our family phone calls on the West Coast and tried to Skype our grandsons but our connection was poor. That was about it for Christmas Day—nothing too exciting other than an intense movie. A quiet day is something easier for Vic to handle than me. I always seem to battle unfulfilled idealistic expectations on holidays. To be frank, I felt a sense of relief when the day drew to a close. I am certainly thankful for our good health and the many blessings we have in our life—especially being able to retire and pursue this travel dream. As Vic said to me Christmas morning, “Every day in the motorhome seems like a holiday to me.”

I must add that one of my greatest pleasures during this time of year is baking, or what I like to describe as spending a few days covered in flour. Owing to my Hungarian heritage, two things I have to make at Christmas are kolackys and strudel. My own grandmother used to come to our home on Christmas Day and immediately began stretching the dough for her strudel on a card table.  My strudel dough is not quite so labor intensive, but I would like to challenge myself someday in trying to imitate her method.  Here are the results of my efforts—two apple strudels surrounding poppy and apricot kolackys on the inside of the platter.

On the day after Christmas, we decided to look for our joint present to each other: sliding shelves from Lowes for the three cabinets I use as a pantry in the motorhome. I saw these Rev-A-Shelves installed in a 40’ Phaeton last winter and have obsessed about them ever since. Lowe's only had one shelf in stock but three others were expected by Friday.  We picked them up yesterday but Vic has not yet installed them.  I promise to take photos and let you know how well they work when we do. The photo below shows the shelf we purchased, but we are putting them in the cabinets above the loveseat on the galley side of our coach.

rev a shelf

Another Florida family tradition is my oldest brother Bob’s annual holiday party at his home in Dunnellon, about 75 miles north of here. He chooses to hold it between Christmas and New Year’s every year as a joint celebration of Christmas and his Dec. 31 birthday. I was especially excited to hear that his two daughters and their children would also be visiting from Miami.  (Having two sons, I am especially fond of my seven nieces!) I didn't do a great job of capturing photos of everyone, but here are a few snapshots of the event. Of particular note is my grand-nephew Mathew donning his Christmas present from my brother—a flight suit just like grandpa used to wear in the Marines!

bob's party collage

Yesterday was our real Christmas in terms of spending money on ourselves. We picked up the three sliding shelves from Lowe's and then went to Best Buy and bought a 16 GB i-Pad mini. Vic was really impressed with my niece Kathryn’s i-Pad mini which she demonstrated for us when she was visiting here earlier in the month. He was so impressed he thought I should have one!  Sweet. He has a Kindle which he loves; I have resisted having an e-reader until Kathryn showed me all the free classics she has access to on her i-Pad.  I am looking forward to building my electronic library since we have only one bookshelf in the motorhome.

The last week of the year is indeed drawing to a close.  We are scheduled to leave this park on New Year’s Day—seems a little weird to leave on a holiday but we are ready for our big journey of 75 miles to Buttonwood Inlet RV Resort in Cortez.  This is one of the first times in 16 months that I have had a case of hitch itch-- being only one mile from the beach should scratch it!

Wishing you all a joy-filled and prosperous New Year.  Jibby-Jibby! (My family toast.)


  1. What darling appetizers in your picture and DElicious looking studel. Mmmmm I'd love to have some of both it and kolackys.

    It looks like you have had a lovely holiday with family this year but I know what you mean about going "home" for the holidays. We too are thinking of flying back just for 10 days or so next year.

    I'm looking forward to hearing and seeing all about Buttonwood. Happy New Year!!

    1. I appreciate your comment about missing "home" during the holidays. Most of the time The Big EZ feels like home, but Christmas feels a little different, especially with just the two of us.

      Happy New Year to you and David!

  2. Love the penguins ... I'm not one for the kitchen, but I shared the idea with hubby and my mom ;-)

    We too are on the road on New Year's Day ... nice to have so little traffic.

  3. Oh, boy...a shelf solution! We might just have to try and get those for our 40 foot Phaeton. You should see under our sink! Yikes! Your food looks terrific! We were so glad to have our family with us this year, it is hard when they can't be there...Happy New Year to you both..

  4. Love those adorable penguins...great idea...We are heading toward LaBelle...Haven't been to Florida for 8 years..Your pastries look wonderfu, by the way!!Happy New Year!


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